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The Joneses

The Joneses

Have you seen the movie The Joneses? (For you cable cutters like me, it's on Netflix!)  It's not the best film in the world, but boy does it have a lot to say about consumerism and the influence of others on our spending habits.

Here, take a look:

The Joneses, here played by Demi Moore and David Duchovny, are total sell-outs. They're not living the American Dream, they're selling it. They're a fake family backed my marketing companies to sell products. The sales strategy is essentially to make their neighbors so jealous of their lifestyle that they, in turn, want to buy all the products that makes the lives of Jones family so effortless and enviable. 

I have a friend like the Joneses. She's an influencer and I'm the easily influenced.

I almost became vegetarian because it would make hanging out with her easier. I pretend to like wine because she loves an evening grazing over cheese and crackers. I've started watching certain shows she's recommended (and I don't regret it, good ones like Transparent and True Detective).

My friend eats nearly every meal at home and because she spends so much time in the kitchen, she has a few trusty tools. She loves to show them off to the uninitiated: SodaStream, Rabbit Aerator, KitchenAid stand mixer, Ninja blender, undercounter ice maker in a completely remodeled kitchen, etc.

I doubt my friend realizes it, but she's selling these products to me more effectively than any other targeted ad campaign. The marketing powers that be should be sending her a commission check!

After seeing her make pizza dough in a Ninja, I promptly went out and bought one. (I'd say it's already paid for itself as a triple threat -- blender, food processor, stand mixer -- and our go-to gadget for everything from smoothies to hummus.)

Being so impressionable, you might be beginning to see how a friendship with her could pose a few problems for a pauper like me.

She's got it all: tenure, a giant house, a successful husband, a garden, a 6-pack, a cute dog, a passport chock full of stamps from exotic locations, a car not on its last leg...

In other words, the grass on her side of the fence is a lush, healthy green. Let's take a look at my "lawn:"

  • Tenure? No job security for me
  • A giant house? Try a 1-bedroom apartment with below-average rent for our area
  • A successful husband? Well, I have to say at least Mr. Spendy's working on it
  • A garden? I have trouble keeping a patio cherry tomato plant alive
  • A 6-pack? Let's just say my abs are far from taking that form
  • A cute dog? No pets because that costs extra money (pet deposit at apartment + vet + food)
  • A passport chock full of stamps from exotic locations? Nope, not lately
  • A car not on its last leg? Yeah, no. Mine will bite the dust soon

You can see how after spending an afternoon with my friend might be a bit of a spirit killer. After all, "Comparison is the thief of joy."

I've now trained myself for my interactions with this friend. I've taken a few notes from Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist.

Before I leave my house, I tell myself that she's in a different life stage than me. After all, I'm 27 and she's 42. She's had more time in the workforce and has had more time to accumulate gadgets and even wealth. I'm only a few years past graduation and my "adult" life is just beginning. She's an apple. I'm an orange. It's not a fair comparison.

Plus, just because she has something that I want, that doesn't mean I won't have it someday, too. There are aspects of my friend's life that I find aspirational. As in, "I can't attain that just now, but it's something to look forward to." I'm not against some self-indulgence, hence the purchase of the Ninja. It wasn't a necessity but it has made my life a little better.

Additionally, there's an advantage to being friends with her: I can learn from her mistakes and can see how some of her choices would or wouldn't work for my lifestyle. For example, I have no desire to buy a 2,400 square foot home for just two people. After seeing it in action in my friend's kitchen, I know now that a KitchenAid stand mixer would be an impractical space waster (at least for me!).

I used to get upset at my friend nearly staging an infomercial in her kitchen to show off her latest purchase. Now, I'm much less susceptible to her tactics. I'll let her buy all the crap and wait for her review. Meanwhile, I'll keep staving off impulse buys and continue stacking Benjamins. 

Miss Thrifty's April 2016 Net Worth

Miss Thrifty's April 2016 Net Worth

I'm Losing My Job, But I'm Not Worried

I'm Losing My Job, But I'm Not Worried